£60 million to protect our national heritage

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Museums, galleries and heritage organisations have been awarded £60 million to ensure nationally important museum collections and heritage assets are protected for future generations.

The funding, which has been awarded to organisations including the V&A, The Natural History Museum and the British Library has supported 100 projects for essential maintenance works delayed by the pandemic. It will help projects that were stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic reach completion to allow institutions to welcome back visitors this summer.

It will increase accessibility at national tourist attractions including the Royal Armouries in Leeds and the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The funding will also help organisations meet net-zero targets by supporting energy efficiency projects at The Royal Armouries, providing grants for electric boilers at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire, and upgrading insulation at Tate Liverpool.

This £60 million investment in some of the nation’s beloved institutions builds on the almost £2 billion invested in the arts, heritage and cultural sectors through the Culture Recovery Fund, which has supported more than 5,000 organisations through the pandemic.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

We’ve given £60 million to safeguard the priceless collections and heritage at many of our beloved cultural institutions so they can be enjoyed by future generations. This builds on our £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund, ensuring that we continue to protect our heritage and culture throughout this pandemic and are able to open up our historic institutions for everyone to enjoy this summer.

A grant of £9.8 million has gone to the world-famous British Museum for essential maintenance work which will ensure the Museum’s priceless collections are preserved for future generations. £2.7 million of this will care for the fabric and roofs of galleries.

London’s Natural History Museum will receive £4.6 million to restore the original Waterhouse Wing, home to the Human Biology Galleries that chart the origins and evolution of humanity. More than £1 million will help the V&A in London preserve the unique terracotta facade of the Grade I listed garden courtyard building and £800,000 will help the Walker Art Gallery, part of National Museums Liverpool, preserve the ornate sandstone cornice that adorns the gallery’s entrance.

As well as galleries and museums, funding is also helping organisations including The Royal Parks whose green spaces were enjoyed by Londoners during the pandemic. £2.2 million will maintain footpaths, create nature habitats, protect parkland and landscapes, and repair boundary walls and bridges. It will help parks including Richmond, Bushy, Greenwich, St James’s, Brompton Cemetery and Hyde Park welcome visitors for years to come.

Funding has also been awarded to public bodies to help their efforts to hit net-zero targets. Decarbonisation projects have been funded at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and Science Museum Group sites in Manchester and York. From upgrading lighting to LED systems which will reduce consumption by up to 70%, to insulating roofs and enhancing glazing, work is underway across our national institutions to build back greener.

Recipients include the Royal Armouries in Leeds whose £1.1 million grant is being used to build a changing places toilet that will open up facilities at the museum for people who have complex needs. The new facilities will include generous space for wheelchair users and allow space for users to be accompanied by carers and height adjustable wash basins and changing benches. More than £350,000 will go to the National Science and Media Museum and the Museum of the Home to reconfigure entrances and modernise lifts to make both sites more accessible.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens will receive £510,000 to fund essential upgrades to its buildings, along with significant investment in infrastructure.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum said:

Over the coming years significant investment in the BM estate is required to maintain appropriate conditions for the collection, improve public access, and ensure long-term sustainability. We are very grateful indeed for the additional support we have received from the Government. It enables us, at a difficult time, to progress essential work on our building fabric and infrastructure, to keep the Museum safe and allow us to welcome visitors back.

Diane Lees, Director-General of Imperial War Museums said:

This welcomed support from the Government will help IWM to pursue our goal of achieving net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, in line with the UK Government’s de-carbonisation timeline. The funds will enable us to invest in the removal of fossil fuelled heating across our estates in favour of decarbonising infrastructure, such as electric boilers supplied wholly by UK renewable green zero carbon energy, and to work towards becoming an environmentally sustainable organisation. These important changes may not be visible to our visitors, but they are crucial to us being able to care for our sites and collections sustainably.

Kirsten Walker, Director, Collections Care and Estates at the Horniman Museum and Gardens says:

We are really grateful to the DCMS for this funding, which is supporting much needed infrastructure refurbishment, which would be difficult to fund from other sources.

The £60 million Public Bodies Infrastructure Fund aim is to enhance public access to national heritage and collections, and maintain much-loved historic buildings nationwide.

The additional funding builds on an unprecedented package of support for public bodies through the pandemic. National museums, galleries and heritage organisations have received approximately £100 million in additional grant in aid support from DCMS to offset the financial impact of the pandemic. An additional £90 million was announced by the Chancellor at Budget for continued support for government-sponsored national museums and cultural bodies in England.

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